Newcastle United round-up: Benitez contract talks; U23 loss; Freddy Shepherd tribute
The future of Rafael Benitez at Newcastle United is uncertain after the recent transfer window, but the Times report that the club are preparing to open talks over a new contract. They are hoping that it will improve the manager’s relationship with Mike Ashley and it will protect the club as his contract expires at the end of next season. However, the Shields Gazette report that there are no immediate plans to discuss a new deal.
This is a story to follow, especially if Mike Ashley is serious about selling the club. Rafa Benitez is his biggest asset and he needs to make sure that he is committed to the club for the long-term, as it would make Newcastle attractive to potential buyers. The conflicting reports suggest this is far from clear-cut and that the propaganda war between manager and owner remains a problem for the club.
Despite selecting a strong U23 side against Wolves last night, Newcastle fell to a narrow defeat at St James’ Park. Dwight Gayle, Rolando Aarons and Jack Colback all featured for the home side, but they couldn’t deliver the desired result.
It was a good opportunity for the players mentioned to improve their match-fitness and Gayle did score, but it was ruled out for offside. Newcastle will be hoping that the striker is feeling more confident with his body and can get back to his best for the first-team. Although Joselu is leading the line well, he doesn’t have the goal-scoring ability of Gayle.
Former Newcastle United chairman Sir Freddy Shepherd has sadly passed away at the age of 75. The Magpies went to two FA Cup finals under his stewardship and qualified for the Champions League on a number of occasions. The club paid tribute to the former chairman:
“During his time at the club, as both a director and chairman, he had a big part to play in the club’s modern-day history and was a driving force in the redevelopment of our stadium and expanding its capacity to more than 52,000.
“He had a huge passion not just for the club, but for the city and region it represents. Our thoughts at this time are of course with his family and friends.”
This is awful news and it is a great loss for the North East, as he did a lot for the region. Newcastle enjoyed success under his chairmanship and supporters will look back at it with a lot of fond memories. There is likely to be further tribute paid to him this weekend when the team faces Liverpool at St James’ Park.